By Max Bemis, Michael Walsh, and Ruth Redmond.
Marvel introduces X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever, a new series about a kid with powers that, simply put, are the absolute worst. The new 5 issue mini-series is a fun take on the often serious world of the X-Men. Bemis introduces new character Bailey Hoskins who assumes the regrettable title of Worst X-Man Ever. The key to this story being successful is Bailey and whether or not readers feel an attachment to him giving us a reason to invest in future issues. He may be the Worst X-Man Ever, but he could be a fan favorite if this series follows through with a solid arc. *Fun side-note, writer Max Bemis is the lead singer from the band Say Anything.*
We first encounter Bailey in high school, acting as teenage boys do and trying to think of how to impress girls. As he thinks about each girl he wants to pursue he realizes he has nothing to offer them or nothing in common with them; basically he is not special or remarkable when compared with the other boys in school. This theme of teenage angst and self-discovery takes an X-Men twist when his parents reveal themselves as mutants who have been in hiding in fear of public humiliation or rejection. Bailey has the best kid reaction ever to the news and gladly wants to know everything about his possible mutant powers. No spoilers here, but things take a turn when Bailey goes to visit Dr. Hank McCoy, aka Beast. Bailey suffers a few devastating blows in rapid succession that take him from normal teenager playing video games trying to get a girl to notice him to a full fledged angst-ridden teenager.
This first issue offers nothing new and remarkable to the X-Men franchise, but it does present a light-hearted look at the mutant world from a fresh modern perspective. Bailey is written by Bemis like a fanboy of the X-Men, wishing to have claws like Wolverine or space-wings, but he is still trying to find what makes him special. The story would have had more depth if the concept of being a teenager and a mutant were compared to show what Bailey was experiencing. The book felt more like Archie becomes a mutant than the introduction of a new mutant into the X-Men universe. Maybe it was the red hair that lent itself to that comparison, but the book has a young andmischievous feel to it and not a deeper take on life as a teenage mutant. Mutants are inherently and genetically different thanks to the X-gene, which to a teenager could be a blessing or a curse. Being different can be terrifying or exhilarating, especially in high school where image is everything. If you are genetically pre-destined to be special or different it can be a burden, which is what all mutants go through upon discovery of his or her powers. Playing on the similarities between these two experiences could have strengthened the story a little.
Even though the story did lack any real unpredictable elements, the art from Walsh and Redmond still delivered. The bold lines and soft color palette used by the art team really gave this story a young, upbeat feel in the beginning and the colors began to deepen and get darker to match the story toward the end. It was a real treat for X-Men fans to see some beloved characters from the 90’s team in this issue. Wolverine, Cyclops, Gambit, Colossus, Storm, Iceman, and Nightcawler are among the plethora of fan favorites we get in this issue. A particular favorite part was the fastball special we get to see in a particularly critical action panel. The characters are drawn in a very nostalgic style with the classic blue and yellow uniforms and Storm with a mohawk, but with a modern take on apparel and accessories.
This book did not try to reinvent the X-wheel, but it may not have laid enough groundwork for people to care enough about Bailey to pick up issue #2. He starts the issue with a naive and innocent perspective, but there was not enough development to bring the reader along with Bailey as he goes through some heart breaking blows. The story needed to find a little more balance between the lightheartedness and the action to make it feel natural. Bailey may not have won over every reader’s heart with this first issue, but it can still provide a fun read for X-men fans who are looking for a bit of nostalgia.